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CUB Q&A: What’s happening to solar power in Illinois in 2025? 

A solar benefit called “net metering” is NOT going away in 2025, but it is changing, under state law.

The final details of this transition have not yet been finalized by the utilities or state regulators, but this Q&A covers what we know as of May 2024.   

What is net metering?
Net metering is a benefit for solar users. Under Illinois law, investor-owned utilities (ComEd, Ameren, MidAmerican) are required to offer net metering for renewable energy generation (such as solar power).

This means anytime the solar panels a consumer installs generate more power than the household needs, that consumer can sell that excess electricity back to the utility and receive electric bill credits. The utility will only charge the solar customer for the net amount of electricity consumed, plus any other fixed delivery charges (the customer charge and standard metering charge).

It used to be difficult for solar users in Illinois to sell excess power back to the utility, but in 2008 legislation took effect that simplified the process. 

So what’s happening in 2025?
On Jan. 1, 2025, the net metering benefit is being reduced for Illinois residents who decide to install solar panels on their homes. Two important points: 

  1. The benefit is being reduced for new solar customers only. Illinois consumers who already have solar panels on their homes will continue to get the full net metering benefit over the life of their system.
  2. While the benefit is being reduced, it is still a benefit, and solar is still a good deal for Illinois consumers.

How will the net metering benefit be limited after 2025?
Net metering currently gives 1:1 per kilowatt-hour credits on these parts of your electric bills: Supply, Delivery and taxes and fees.

If you have solar panels on your home now: You are guaranteed this current version of net metering for the lifetime of your system (defined, under net metering regulations, as 30 years from the date the solar installation received permission to operate). That means you will continue to have this full benefit on all three sections of your bill.  

If you install solar panels after Jan. 1, 2025:Net metering credits will be applied to the Supply section of your bill, rather than all three sections. In addition to supply-side credits, you will be eligible for a “Distributed Generation (DG) Rebate.” The rebate requires the use of a smart inverter (equipment that helps transfer electricity from the solar panels to your home) and the value of the rebate will depend on the size of your installation. This new system means customers after 2025 will receive a larger benefit upfront, with a reduced net metering benefit throughout the lifetime of the system. 

If I’m considering solar, what should I do?
If you are interested in getting the full net metering benefit, CUB recommends that you explore if it’s realistic to install solar panels and get them fully connected before the end of the year. 

Important: The law sets a deadline for panels to be connected to the grid by Dec. 31, 2024. But there is a debate in the solar industry over how far along in the installation process a project needs to be in 2024 for it to still be eligible for full net metering. It’s possible, once rules are finalized by utilities and regulators, that the deadline will be earlier than Dec. 31. We’re anxiously awaiting more details from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). When those details are released, CUB will alert consumers. 

If you aren’t able to install and connect your panels until next year, remember you will still receive an upfront rebate and enjoy the net metering benefit on the supply side of your bills going forward. Solar will still help lower your utility bill and be a good deal after Jan. 1, 2025.  

Will I lose savings?
If you currently have panels on your home, the way you are compensated for net metering will not change.

If you install panels after Jan. 1, you will continue to save on your utility bills, but the net metering benefit will be lower.

Why is this happening?
A transition like this is typical in states as they achieve higher levels of solar adoption–and Illinois in recent years has enjoyed a solar boom. 

A reduction in the net metering benefit was planned in state law as far back as the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016. The utilities would have preferred this change happen much sooner than 2025, but consumer advocates successfully extended full net metering benefits for years.

While advocates like CUB would have preferred to see the benefit extended further, even without that full benefit, solar will continue to secure lower utility bills into the future.  

CUB will update consumers once the new net metering rules are filed by the utilities. For more info on rooftop solar, read CUB’s fact sheet.